Traditional Sports of Japan

Which season do you choose as the best season to do sports? Most of Japanese people might choose autumn, because there are a famous phrase ‘Autumn is a nice season for sports(スポーツの秋)’ in Japanese. According to one explanation, the origin of this expression is back to Tokyo Olympic in1964, the sports day was established as holiday in this year. Today, I would like to introduce maniac like ‘traditional sports’ in Japan.

Speaking of Japanese traditional sports, you will associate such as Sumou(相撲), Kendou(剣道), Karate(空手), or Judou(柔道). However, I am going to introduce Kemari(蹴鞠), Inu-Oimono(犬追物), and Takagari(鷹狩) in this time. For starters, introduce the meaning of these words, Kemari(蹴鞠) means ‘kick the ball’,  Inu-Oimono(犬追物) means ‘chasing a dog’, and Takagari(鷹狩) means ‘falconry’.


Kemari originally from China and it come to Japan around 600’s. This sport had become popular especially in higher society. This sport was mentioned also in Tenshou-Shikimoku(天正式目), which established the rules for Bushi class. The tradition of Kemari continues at shrine also in Today.

The next sport is Inu-Oimono, the player of this sports mount on a horse and chase dogs with a safety bow. It developed through Bushi’s practice of a bow. The history started Kamakura-era and continued to the Edo-era, however, its history stopped in the late Edo period because of Shorui-Awaremi-no-rei (ordinances of animal protection). This sport is completely lost through the change of society. Only the paints tell us its culture.

The last one is Takagari, this sports is not only in Japan also all over the world. In fact, the culture of Takagari is originally from continent of Asia, and flourished the culture as a play among high society in Japan. Takagari was a symbol of authority. Today, it separates many schools from Edo-era and it continues as one of the traditional sports of Japan.

Sports reflect the culture of society. If you have an interest in Japanese culture, please check its sports.


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